Travel Feed

Big Weekend

I have had a big weekend.  Big in the sense that I had a lot to do and big in the amount of ideas and inspiration I experienced.  Where to start?  Firstly, the first "Embroidery Convention" was held at the Convention Centre in Brisbane this past weekend.  I saw and experienced so much that I will have to break the writting about this over a number of days.

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I attended to demonstrate Kogin Embroidery for the Embroiderers' Guild.  I was so busy that I forgot to take photos of a display of my work.  It was just full on talking to people.  It wasn't a huge convention but it was all about embroidery and textiles.  There were quite a number of traders exhibiting as well, and they were also super busy. 

Having been ill for the past 2 years I have lost touch with the social side of embroidery and textiles.  At this show I ran into so many people that I haven't seen during this time and it made me realise how much I have missed and how things have moved on.  I am seriously behind the 8 ball.  And another thing I had to acknowledge is that I am still not completely recovered.  Yes, I can walk again and think straight but the fatigue sets in after about 5 or 6 hours.  I am not my old self that could work two jobs and just power on.  I have also fallen behind with what is going on in the embroidery world. I was once good at picking trends and where the market was going.  This past two years has put me right out of all that.  I have to do some serious research to catch up.

One of the traders at the show was Kathy Doughty.  Kathy is a quilter who owns and runs a shop in Sydney called Material Obsession and she is an innovator in the textile world.  Now I see she has embraced embroidery as well.  She also writes a great blog which has been down for a while because she has been travelling and teaching in the USA, but is now back online.  (There are lots of interesting links on her last post.)

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Embroidery, on her stand was labelled "the new vintage", it also features on her web page.

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I bought her new book "Organic Applique" which looks interesting although I have only flipped through it.  I have all her other books in my library and if they are anything to go by this should be good.  I see the title also states "creative hand stitching ideas and techniques", lots to discover here.

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Looking back at the traders displays I see a number had the French General sampler prints I wrote about and they were walking out of the shops.  Every one I spoke to agreed that the quality of the linen was good.  Charlie agreed.  I had some trouble getting my piece back from her!

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18 years ago

Doesn't time fly?  Eighteen years ago I had a lump removed from my breast.  It was only early stages and after it's removal I had some ray treatment and I have been free of the disease since then.  At the same time as I was worried sick about what might happen my husband was preparing for the world master's games as a competitor in rowing.  To cut a long story short, I went with him for the competition, all bandaged up and waiting for the pathology results to come through.

We drove down to Ballarat in Victoria from Queensland taking the inland route through the dry interior.  It was so cold after Queensland's heat.  It was cold because the morning temperatures were below 0 degrees celcius!  The ice had to be removed from the car's windscreen and then we sat at the edge of the lake and watched old men (and women), well most were over 45, compete.  My husband came home with a swag of medals which he promptly put in the bottom draw. (He is on the left.)

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But in the mean time I was bored out of my wits!  You can see in this shot he was chuffed and I was cold!

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After the first day I set out to explore the shops, embroidery and patchwork mainly.  By the next day I had a car  full of other competitors wives who were also bored witless.  We found some really pretty towns in the area which were all founded during the gold rushes of the 1850's.  (These shots are pre-digital cameras.  I can't remember when that was.)

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And I remember that I was going to restitch this sampler from the 1840's.  Didn't do that either. (Love the lavender behind the frame.)

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I found some great shops and bought up lots of supplies.  At one shop I bought the prettiest patchwork fabric that was cut into squares.  (This was prior to precuts.)  I brought it home and looked at it, and petted it, but could never work out what I would do with it.  Fast forward 18 years.  I pulled it out the other day and have sewn all those square into rows.  It was the designs on the fabrics I liked so why cut it up?

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I don't know if this is wise, but, I have decided to embroider all the seams.  It would be too difficult to lug it around if I sewed all the fabric together so I have just started with rows.  The embroidery is going to be in shades of blue in all different weights and I am starting with Wheat stitch.  This is not going to be a fast job so it will go into the WIPW catagory.  (Pulling that bundle out of the draw hasn't made any more space.  Oh well.)


Loose ends

Some pictures of temple bells from Thailand that inspired me to buy the bell for the front door.

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I bought my daughter some ceramic fish when I was in Guatemala.  When I was last at the town house I saw one of the tails was broken so it came home with me to be repaired and I think they will stay here.

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Coming home we sailed through this beautiful rainbow.  It is a bit deep at this point in the bay so that treasure is buried deep.

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And I have finished the last needlebook so that has got the desk cleared.

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Finally

I bought a temple bell whilst I was in Thailand .  We were visiting a Buddist temple in Chang Mai and this day was a public holiday so was super busy.  There were all kinds of things for sale around the temple and these bells were for people to chime as the walked around the Budda.

 

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It has been sitting on the shelf for the want of something to hang it on and I finally found a bracket at Paddington Hardware. (They have things that no other hardware store have and the men, who are mostly retired,  know every piece of stock.)

Now it is my front door bell.

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Everytime it rings I will remember that visit


The fifth floor

On the 5th floor of Iconsiam was a section set aside for local crafts people.  They have a series of videos on facebook, with subtitles, that are great for explaining some of the work and the artisan involved.  The one I have linked to here looks at embroidery which to me is very much influenced by Boro stitching from Japan.  Variations on this kind of work was to be seen in other craft markets as well and was not cheap.  I looked at buying a dress that was $260 but I didn't have enough cash with me and they didn't have a credit card machine. 

These are some of the stitched bags I saw.  I am looking at this is as a future class, maybe.

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What I did buy from this floor were two small weaving frames for my grand-daughters.

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The instructions are all in Thai, which isn't helpfull, but as they are simple looms I bought them anyway.  I had seen lots of children working at looms when we visited the hill tribes, so I thought they would make a good craft activity for our Monday afternoons.

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I thought I had better give it a try first and quickly came to the conclusion that I had better put this away until they are a little older. I had forgotten how you have to watch the edges, beat down the thread continually and lots of other little tricks.

(This is a mat for the dolls house.)

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This little frame is only about 5cm x 4cm and I used almost 2 reels of old tapestry wool to do this much.  I hate to think how much yarn I would need for the bigger frame.  The bigger frame would be easier to use but would take a lot longer to finish.  So I will pack them away for another day.

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A long absence

I can't say that I am fully recovered from all the viruses but my trip away has broken the terrible depression I was suffering.  I find on opening the computer up again that I will need to get onto Mr Apple to get my email working and lots of other small things.  It always amazes me that those 'small things' can take forever to fix.

So where do I start?  I think the shopping mall next to the hotel would be a great place.  I don't think I have ever seen a shopping mall that was so opulent yet still managed to retain a lot of the essence of Bangkok and Thai culture.  (if you are really interested there is a video on You Tube that runs for 25mins, all in Thai, that will show you what it is like.)

I found lots of interesting things in there.  On the ground floor was a floating food market, along with a traditional supermarket, that was very expensive.  

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I also found these embroidered straw bags.

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This is an interesting use of this type of embroidery.

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It was the portraits that really caught my eye.

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And on closer inspection it was definately all hand worked not machined.

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 I hadn't expected to see something like this in Thailand.  But then there was lots of things I saw that I wasn't expecting.


Last Day

We are travelling home this afternoon and I must say that after the constant go, go, go I will be pleased to get on the plane.  Not that I haven't enjoyed my time here but the constant pressure of people in your face all the time is just getting to me.

I had breakfast at the tea house in the block arcade.  Only eggs on toast and a cup of tea.  I left all those delicious cakes in the cabinet.

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Some people actually had cake for breakfast!

I now need to get home and process everything I have seen and done.

 


A long trip

I took the long drive up to Warwick yesterday to visit quilting friends who were staying at Glenrose House.  It is in a lovely country location and they offer accommodation for quilting retreats and it has a great shop there as well.  But I do have to drive there and back, 3 1/2  hours in each direction to get to and from the place.  Seven hours of driving is a lot.

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The drive took me through lots of traffic for over 1 1/2 hours, then I got out into the country side, along with a few big trucks, and then after a few glimpses, the border ranges suddenly come into view. 

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We have been bush walking up here and it always takes my breath away.

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On this day I only had to deal with a few trucks on other days I haven't been so lucky.  This road gives access to the New England Highway that runs all the way down to NSW and the big rigs are a constant hazzard.

  Warwick is known for it's roses,

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the rodeo

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and the jumpers and jazz winter festival.

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This was shopping and lunch day in town for my friends so it was back into the cars and into town.  Country towns are always a bit different.  In the fabric shop, which sells patchwork, dress and curtain fabrics, along with lots of other things I saw a sample for a Chicken Scratch Embroidery class.  You can't buy that heavier weight gingham any more here that you can get in Europe so it was stitched on a light weight poly cotton.  Not quite the same but the pattern was nice, they had even used the needle woven stars.

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We had morning tea at Mamma Lucia's Patisserie where the cakes are to die for and they have all the national trophies they have won for baking on display.

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Then more shopping and on to lunch at the garden centre.  I did not buy one plant, I have to do something with the ones I have.  But there were some beautiful flowers there.

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I thought about this as a design for embroidery.

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As to my own shopping, I was very restrained.  Just 30cm (20") of each print for some more bags.

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The latest research shows that the number one indicator of a long life is the support of friends.  I am going to live forever!!!


Last of the series

I have finished the last design for my series of embroideries about Peace.  But I'm not sure how this is going to stitch out, it could be great or a disaster.  Actually, the last saying "Peace is in your hand" is probably the most forceful of all the embroideries in the sentiments it expresses.

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I have these embroideries framed, ( in cheap frames) and hung on the wall behind my computer and there are one or two that I think need to be restitched.  The designs are good but the choice of stitches selected is not.  I think that is a job for the future.  I will just be pleased to get them finished at this stage.

After I had designed this I sat down and made up one of the kits I bought in Houston from Odile Bailoeul.

I just love her fabric designs and this backed velvet is fantastic to sew.  This is Hercule the cat.  (Notice all the feet for my machine are back in the cabinet.  I don't want to lose one again.)

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The instructions that came with the kit are terrific.  Her method of construction is so simple that I had the whole thing finished in under 20 minutes, I need to add a tassel on the zipper yet.  Oh Dear!  Reading her instructions again I find I have invented another way to construct a bag! I didn't follow her instructions at all!

This is one bag pattern I am going to add to my folio of bags.  I will put together a little tutorial when I make the next one.

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Weaving and embroidery

My visit to Guatemala was a bit like stepping out of the Tardis into another time zone. 

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The skills of people there is  from a time long past in our Western Culture.   I wondered why it was the women who mainly carried on these skills and kept their traditions?   Our guide explained that the country had gone through a 36 year civil war, fueled by a number of different powers.  The CIA from the USA, Castro from Cuba and local people who saw it as an opportunity to increase their power.  The result of this was that a lot of the Mayan men were killed.  You could be killed for wearing Mayan native dress, so the men stopped wearing it.  That their culture has survived at all is remarkable considering the ethnic cleansing and killing that went on during that time.

But it does continue on and says a lot about the people, especially the women.  Some of the blouses, or hupils, they wear look embroidered but they are actually a hand woven brocade.  This piece that I purchased from a second hand market is an example of a brocade. The joins at the centre is embroidered, the rest of the design is woven.  And, they memorise these patterns.  The counting involved must drive them crazy.  This is how brocade was made before machines.  No wonder it was so expensive and prized and the weavers praised for their skills. 

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These skills were highly prized in Western Culture, starting about Byzantine times (it's use in Mayan culture predates this by thousands of years), and because the textiles were so expensive their distribution and access to the skill was controlled by those in power right up to the 1700,s.  In 1804 Joseph Jacquard invented a machine that could be attached to a power loom and since then hand woven brocade has virtually disappeared from our culture.  I saw one of these machines on display in Lyon, France years ago.

This hupil that I also purchased second hand, is embroidered.  That is, the fabric is woven and then the design added with needle and thread.

 

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It must have been stitched some time after 1950 because there is quite a bit of lurex thread being used.   Mayan women 'love' glitter.

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Outside one of the churches in Chichicastinango

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I found a woman drawing the designs, free hand, onto fabric for embroiderers to add their threads.

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This video from You Tube details the making of a hupil over 90 days.  It has been filmed in the very places I  have just visited and shows in detail the whole process.  The shop where Manuela buys her threads is the same shop where I bought mine and the Textile Museum is the same one where I watched this young woman warp up her loom.

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If you want to see a more in-depth explanation of weaving and embroidery in Mayan culture there is an excellent documentary called "Century of Color: Maya Weaving & Textiles (English)"  It is nearly an hour in length and is very comprehensive in it's coverage of the topic.                                                                                                                                                                                                         Now it is time to step back into my imaginary time machine.  I need to return to today's world and pick up the threads of my life again.  I wonder if Dr Who and his time travellers felt like I do now?  A bit of regret at leaving, excitement at my return, nostalga about what was.  But now the future calls.

 

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